Author/photographer Rich Earl looks beyond the obvious and finds beauty and truth in environments that we too-often overlook or deem unimportant. This should give hope for the less pious - there is indeed a devotional for the rest of us!
In The Hollow, Volume One - Winter
183 pages / soft cover
Please indulge me for this unusual introduction …do you remember the Certs commercial? One person contended that Certs was a breath mint – the other party insisted that Certs was a candy mint. That’s when the announcer proclaimed, “stop – you’re both right! It’s two, two, two mints in one!” The obvious point was that you, the consumer, could enjoy their product for either of those two reasons – or both. So how does this relate to Rich Earl’s fine new book, In the Hollow, Volume One - Winter? Quite simply, you can enjoy this book both as a devotional and a photography book. That’s right – it’s two, two, two books in one!
Even though the above might not be relatable to readers under the age of …well, let’s not go there – I’m sure that author/photographer Earl would forgive my baby boomer TV reference. You see, this isn’t your ordinary devotional book. Earl breaks the shackles of devotional-book-orthodoxy (if there is such a thing) by including well-chosen quotes that one might not expect to be cited in a ‘religious’ tome. Alongside the likes of Spurgeon and Tozer are insightful comments from Marshall McLuhan, Yogi Berra, Randy Stonehill, Bruce Cockburn, Neil Young, and even a certain Pooh Bear named Winnie. You see, God places wisdom in many unusual settings, and it’s refreshing to find a devotional book that seeks out those places. Earl does the same with his stunning nature photography, looking beyond the obvious and finding the beauty and truth in environments that we too-often overlook or deem unimportant. This should give hope for the less pious - there is indeed a devotional for the rest of us!
This is not to imply that Earl doesn’t treat his words seriously. In fact, his observations – served in daily half-page portions – are thoughtful, balanced with scripture, and focused in a way that brings new light to subjects and life-issues that we often wrestle with. If seeing the hidden, and seeing things in a new light seems to be a recurring theme it’s with good reason. Much of this book was born out of the author’s love of hiking in Central Pennsylvania - spending time in ‘the hollows’ between a pair of hills or mountains . It’s during those outings that inspiration for the words and opportunities to capture the images were able to happen, and for hidden truths to emerge from unexpected places.
Like most devotionals, In the Hollow is designed to be read daily, to inspire wisdom and contemplation in small doses. The wonderfully diverse and intriguing quotations both reflect the accompanying images and introduce the subject of the writer’s thoughts for the day. Earl writes with eloquence and every-day common sense. There’s no effort made to make reality ‘pretty’ but there’s always an acknowlegement of God’s ability to get us through. For example, the January 23 entry begins by referencing the epic journey of explorers Lewis and Clark: “…I wonder what would have happened if, instead of strapping on their boots and making the climb, they had held a prayer meeting beseeching The Lord to move it [the mountain] out of the way? Lord, make us fit to climb, and give us understanding to know when to pray and when to climb.”
In many ways, In the Hollow is also a photo book (remember? Two books in one). The images in the book are laid out so that each image is facing a page of relating text and spaces to record your own thoughts and reactions. Earl has a fine photographer’s eye. His sense of color and composition combined with macro techniques as well as more traditional nature photography, is technically sound and aesthetically pleasing. These photographs aren’t the usual Hallmark Greeting Card variety that often end up decorating scripture-based texts – these images are thoughtfully created and intentionally placed by the photographer/author to speak to the soul. Even as the soul goes through seasons, the full title of this book indicates that Rich Earl intends to continue from Winter into the other three seasons. No doubt, his words and images will bring new life, insight and inspiration to the winter, spring, summer and fall of your own life.
Read more about the book, get a look at some hi-res images and order a copy at www.inthehollow.net
- Bert Saraco